Feds: Oil from Dakota Fields Improperly Classified

U.S. crude oil production is forecast to reach 8.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2014 — up from 5 million barrels per day in 2008. The increase is overwhelmingly due to the fracking boom in North Dakota's Bakken region. Fracking involves the fracturing of rock with pressurized liquid to free oil and natural gas unreachable through conventional drilling.

Freight railroads in the U.S. transported nearly 234,000 carloads of crude oil in 2012, up from just 9,500 in 2008. Early data suggest that rail carloads of crude surpassed 400,000 in 2013, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Last month, U.S. and Canadian accident investigators warned that a "major loss of life" could result from an accident involving the increasing use of trains to transport large amounts of crude oil. They urged their governments to make stronger efforts to ensure hazardous cargo is properly classified before shipment. They also recommended that trains carrying hazardous materials avoid populated and other sensitive areas, and greater oversight to ensure rail carriers that transport oil are capable of responding to "worst-case discharges of the entire quantity of product carried on a train."

Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., contributed to this report.


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Philippe  |  February 06, 2014
It is a fact that crude oil contains a variable amount of natural gas. Once produced the crude oil is processed through “separators”. The separator processes the crude at atmospheric pressure, the crude separate the light, crude oil and heavies. The light is natural gas and the heavies are water including geological trash that comes up with the flow rate velocity. The separators size dictated the resident time requires letting the light separate from the crude at atmospheric pressure. None the less some light particulates of gas do not separate, because they stay prisoner of the density of the crude. Once the crude goes through the separator process it is loaded in the rail road tank car. The rail road car becomes another separator when it starts moving. The vibration caused by the speed of the car cause the light crude gas particulate to separate and render the rail road car more dangerous. The cost of totally separating the crude oil light particulate at the source, is a costly process that a refinery does any way. The danger is not a rail road car over pressure, but a potential bomb if hit and a spark ignite this separated light particulate. Diesel once processed does not present danger, gasoline does. It has to do with the API grade. A crude WTI API spec 45 degree is less prone to danger than so call WTI API 50 or lighter. Most shale crude produced in the US by fracking is lighter than spec WTI or API 45. It is to be noted that Natural Gas in the Bakken does not have a market; this may change, it is better to send the crude to refineries that will separate and sell the gas.